A*Men

Black A*Men sample spray on blue themed promo card featuring a flask with the Mugler iconic cut star.

Mint chocolate patchouli, camphor cool and creamy, with black coffee on the side.
Lasts an eternity.

Incredibly dynamic, constantly shifting from dark to bright, sugary to herbal, soft to sharp–and there’s something aggressive about the performance, the way it fills the room and takes up space. A*Men is definitely a manspreader, but gets away with it by being sweet and fun.

*

“I think beauty is the human emotional vehicle between us and it’s very important.” – Manfred Thierry Mugler

The world has lost some sparkle today, and I imagine the angels and the aliens fighting for the honor of carrying him upward.

Mugler was an incredible fashion designer, responsible for so many history making outfits–Demi Moore’s Indecent Proposal dress, Kim Kardashian’s wet Met Gala number, David Bowie’s neon green suit, Cardi B’s Venus dress–and sooo many more, all bold, creative, sometimes divisive, and always attention getting, just like his perfumes.

He was a visionary and an activist, ignoring gender rules, racial bias and body shape stereotypes, making luxury fashion inclusive and exciting to all, and in the case of his fragrances, accessibly priced and environmentally conscious.

Rest in Parfum, sir, and thank you for all the beauty you have given us.

*

George Micheal’s 1992 Too Funky video was set in a fictional Mugler runway show.

Perfect

Mini bottle with blue plastic bow on top and box with sketchy illustration of a banana on the side.

There’s something oddly coquettish about about this one, as if the perfume flirts with the wearer.

Opens with pink candy fruit and spring flowers (Do I get a whiff of banana or am I just looking for it because there’s one on the package?) that immediately settle to an inch above the skin, and stay there all day long, blanketed down by the softest wood musk–
–but in that intimate space, Perfect is an attention seeker.

I can only smell it when I lift my hands near my face–during a drink from a glass, resting my chin on my fist, smoothing my hair–but those moments are intensely sweet and distracting, a private tease with a wink and a smile, meant just for me.

The notes aren’t that special (seems like rhubarb and cashmeran are in everything right now) and a bit too girlish for me, but the performance is clever and fun.
I’d love to see more designers explore this topography.

*

Duran Duran’s cover of Lou Reed’s classic is perfection.


Urban Hero

Mini flask of pale green eau on a brown leather jacket.

Leather with nice manners.

Peppery sweet limes ease into smooth wood, wrapped in a bomber jacket with a satin ambergris lining.

Not pushy, but not a pushover, either. The spicy citrus stays light and refreshing in personal space, but the animalics laying just above the skin have some weight.

I’d chat him up if he sat next to me on the subway–

*

Quatre en Rouge

Red promo card and white topped sample spray.

A trumpet with a mute, playing jazzy raspberries in a roomful of roses that’s too small to contain them.

The red apple opening hits sharp, the petals fall flat, and the metallic musk bass line, though sweet, is way too brassy to wear indoors.

*

“You’d never know it, but buddy, I’m a kind of poet
And I’ve got a lot of things I’d like to say…”

Classic Lady Day, with Harry “Sweets” Edison on the trumpet.

Make Me Blush

TokyoMilk canister and gold capped bottle, illustrated with magnolia blossoms on a script background.

This beauty is much more likely to make everyone around her blush.

TokyoMilk #72 lists Magnolia, Honeysuckle, Jasmine Vine and Bourbon, and does them slow and sexy–understated creamy white florals take an hour to fully bloom in personal space, leaving long honey trails behind as they grow.
Underneath, a few inches above the skin, a touch of charred whiskey barrel grounds the lushness of the flowers, keeping them earthy and seductive.

(The bourbon notes are well done–smoky oak caramel with a hit of vanilla spice–that stay dry and thankfully don’t turn into teenage praline on the bottom.)
(Our queen finds getting carded tedious–no one would mistake her for an underage girl.)

Lasts only half the day–through afternoon on cuffs, and into the evening in the hair–but the opening comes in so easy, a later spray seems like a continuation rather than a refresh.

My favorite TokyoMilk out of the newest batch, and might be the best since Honey & the Moon.
There’s an enticing maturity to it that I really appreciate, as if the cottage-core princess grew up and got provocative.

*

Love the way she grows up in this redo of Sting’s classic.

Bubble Gum

Pink ceramic bottle and Dum-Dum bubble gum lollypops.

Bel Rebel’s interpretation opens with a tutti-fruity candy coated gum ball, loud and boisterous, the kind that clatters down the clear spiral base to ding the silver door of the coin machine.
I get the orange flavored one, citrus tart and sweet.
Sadly, the trace amounts of cloves aren’t enough to elevate it out of the candy dish–more sweet spice is needed to blend the fruit sours into that truly iconic bubblegum flavor.
I’m reminded of Fruitchouli Flash, an earthier distant cousin, maybe.

Settles down to elbow length after half an hour, with a dusting of chalk powder and the faintest hint of mint. (I got sneezy for a minute, but perhaps not the fragrance’s fault? Cold-season and all.)
(It’s 23 eff degrees outside, right now.)
Nice, and sniffy–I’m aware of it as I type–but I wish the heart had a bit of L’Interdit‘s tuberose or jasmine to cream it up and give the opaqueness that the bottle suggests. Bubblegum isn’t clear–

Lasts half the day, slowly fading to lighthearted patchouli on the bottom, with some super soft musk, an inch above the skin through the evening.
I like it. For the price, I’d hoped to love it.

*

I do love this–

African Rooibos

Paper test cutout of red flask and copper label wrapped sample spray on a china saucer with a cup of red tea.

Herbal tea that’s so spicy it puts hair on your chest, then rocks you to sleep.
Warm peppery cardamom at first sip, but slowly steeps into hearty yet smooth red tea with tonka.

Lasts the day on skin–intimate and sweet (orris root keeps it from getting syrupy)–with some soft wood smoke on the bottom.

I really like it, and had fun comparing it with yesterday’s sniff, Amouage Lyric Woman, which has a lot of the same notes under the rose. African Rooibos is much earthier–more knight to Lyric’s queen.

*

Rooibos grows only in the Cederberg Mountains, north of Capetown.
Here’s some more South African goodness from the very popular pop duo Mafikizolo.

Lyric Woman

Square, deep red mini flask with domed lid and Amouage medallion in silver, with a sprig of scarlet tipped rose sedum.

Lyric opens with bright bergamot and sharp green cardamom that slowly relaxes over chai tea–cinnamon vanilla sweetened with ylang-ylang–and dark velvet roses, for two hours or so. A lemony herbal note from the geranium drifts in and out, keeping it refreshing.
Amouage’s usual incense is anchored by sandalwood on the bottom, holding it more to clothes than to the body, and under that, powdery orris made creamy by an almond-ish tonka on the skin.

Absolutely lovely, with capricious projection–sometimes a huge flourish of roses at arms length, sometimes just a hint of intimate spice–but might be too sultry for me.
This one requires the rubies and Arabian horses and smoking kohl eyeliner type, and I’m more of a garnet and beat up jeep and mismatched cat’s eye gal.

*

A sultry song.

Delicious Delights Cool Swirl

Frosted DKNY apple, the top half pale green, with a pint of Ben & Jerry’s Pistachio Pistachio

Cool Swirl is a trip through our nearest Korean grocery, with the produce that smells of sweet greens and strange fresh fruit, the dairy case full of coconut water, the shelves of flower scented cosmetics, ending at the freezer chest by the register, filled with melon popsicles and Bravo pistachio treats.

Lasts a half hour in intimate space and becomes a faint skin scent of musk and ice cream.
(For longer satisfaction skip the scent and grab a pint of B&J’s.)

*

I really should have chosen BLACKPINK and Selena Gomez’s “Ice Cream” but it makes my head hurt, so here’s Tom Waits instead.

Gold Fresh Couture

Gold window cleaner shaped mini bottle, metal shot rag scrap and an ochre pear.

A sweet cheapie that works hard at school and doesn’t make their parents nervous–
Cheerful pear and vanilla with a touch of floral woods to keep it from turning into melted ice cream.

Reasonable performance and would pair well with any off-the-shelf hair product in existence.
For Ages 13 and up.

*

I’m really enjoying Moschino’s aesthetic right now–check out this new collection, upbeat campy fun that couldn’t give a flying fuck about binary gender expectations.

Planningtorock’s electropop “Girl You’ve Got My Heart” was used in Moschino’s wonderfully inclusive 2022 Spring-Summer walk, but “Much To Touch” is my favorite.